Trip Details

 

Amid the velvet hills and craggy peaks of Scotland’s western edge, saints and kings have passed, clans and armies clashed, and poets and rebels have sought refuge. Encounter the untamed Highlands and the Inner Hebrides islands on foot, exploring glittering lakes and waterfalls, fantastic geologic formations, and historic sites that date back more than a thousand years. Climb the forested hills of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, hike the coasts of the isles of Iona and Kerrera, and cruise deep into the Cuillin mountain range for a hike among its jagged peaks. Following in the footsteps of famous native Scots such as John Muir, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, and Bonnie Prince Charlie, learn the rich history and legends of Scotland’s wild western lands.

Trip Highlights

  • Explore five islands, two national parks, and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Edinburgh on a variety of hikes and walks.
  • Hike beneath Ben Nevis with a conservationist and historian from the John Muir Trust.
  • Venture into ancient castles and abbeys and discover Highland culture in remote villages.
  • Encounter fascinating geology, from the basalt columns of Fingal’s Cave to the rock pinnacles of the Isle of Skye.

Itinerary - 8 Days

Day 1 — Edinburgh, Scotland

Arrive in Edinburgh and transfer to our hotel. After time to relax, meet for a mid-afternoon walk along the Royal Mile. Step back in time as we wind our way down from Edinburgh Castle past sharp church spires, cobbled alleyways, and Holyrood Palace to Holyrood Park. A short hike brings us up the knoll of Arthur’s Seat, where we’ll have outstanding views of the city. Tonight, gather for an orientation and a welcome dinner at the hotel.
Bruntsfield Hotel (D)

Day 2 — The Trossachs /Oban

Head west after breakfast, stopping for a warm-up hike in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park—Scotland’s first national park, established in 2002. Our trail takes us along the shores of of Loch Katrine, a stunning lake that inspired Sir Walter Scott to write The Lady of the Lake. Or take a vigorous hike up to the pointed summit of Ben A’an for sweeping views or the lake. After lunch, continue to the port town of Oban, the gateway to the wild islands that stretch along Scotland’s west coast. Wander the lively harbor. (2-3 miles hiking, 3 hours)
Oban Caledonian Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Kerrera: The Green Isle

Directly across from Oban lies the isle of Kerrera. Here, we’ll set off on an intriguing hike through history. Pass Horseshoe Bay, where King Alexander II of Scotland died in 1249 while preparing to drive the Norwegian army out of western Scotland. Explore Gylen Castle, perched dramatically on the cliff’s edge. Built as a stronghold of the MacDougall clan in 1582, the castle was besieged and burned in 1647. Head up into the hills to take in spectacular views of the Island of Mull. Return to Oban by ferry this afternoon, and visit the local whisky distillery for a guided tour. (6-7 miles hiking, 4-5 hours)
Oban Caledonian Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Isles of Mull, Iona, and Staffa

Board the morning ferry to the Island of Mull, the second largest of the Inner Hebrides. Cross to the west coast and take a boat to the uninhabited isle of Staffa to visit Fingal’s Cave. Float into the cave to see its spectacular hexagonal basalt shafts and listen to the evocative sounds that inspired Mendelssohn to write his overture “The Hebrides.” End the day on Iona, a tiny island off the tip of Mull that has drawn pilgrims since St. Columba established a monastery here in the sixth century. Explore the stunning abbey, which dates from late medieval times. (3 miles hiking, 1-2 hours)
Oban Caledonian Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Glen Nevis/Isle of Skye

Head north, tracing the eastern shores of Loch Linnhe into a mystical landscape of sweeping slopes and rocky peaks. Pass the western end of Glen Coe, scene of a historic massacre of the MacDonald clan in 1692, before continuing to Fort William. Join a conservationist and John Muir historian for a guided hike beneath the hulking summit of Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the United Kingdom. Later this afternoon, follow the “road to the isles” and cross over the sea to Skye. (3-4 miles hiking, 3 hours)
Bosville Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Northern Skye

The spectacular landscapes of northern Skye rise in soft, grassy slopes that drop off in sheer cliffs, and rock formations that spike and curl. Set off on foot into this magical place, rich with legend and intrigue. Hike beneath the unusual rock formations of the Quiraing and the Old Man of Storr, and learn a fascinating story of geologic turmoil. Later, venture into Dunvegan Castle, the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland, and the stronghold of the MacLeod chiefs for some 800 years. Listen to the colorful history of the clan as we explore elegant staterooms, the dungeon, and the beautiful gardens. (6-7 miles hiking, 4-5 hours)
Bosville Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Cuillin Hills

Along Skye’s southern edge, the Cuillin mountains, often called the Black Cuillin, rise abruptly in rocky crests formed from dark volcanic gabbro. We’ll take the less-traveled route into the Cuillins, approaching from the south by boat to the inaccessible Loch Coruisk. We'll enjoy an incredible hike among these fabled slopes including a circumnavigation of the loch, taking in magnificent views of the peaks that tower over its shores. (6-7 miles hiking, 4-5 hours)
Bosville Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Skye/Edinburgh

After breakfast, start our journey back to Edinburgh, stopping along the way for lunch and a short hike in Cairngorms National Park. Arrive in Edinburgh in the late afternoon and transfer to the city center or to the airport for your flight home. (3 miles hiking, 1-2 hours)
(B,L)

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About Adventures

National Geographic Adventures are unique, active itineraries for intrepid travelers that combine spectacular places, cultural interaction, and physical challenge. You'll explore fascinating, off-the-beaten-path places with top guides, and wherever possible, meet National Geographic experts in the field.

Dates

2014
  • Sep 06 - 13, 2014 (waitlist only)
2015
  • May 23 - 30, 2015
  • Jun 20 - 27, 2015
  • Jul 04 - 11, 2015
  • Jul 18 - 25, 2015
  • Aug 01 - 08, 2015
  • Aug 15 - 22, 2015
  • Aug 22 - 29, 2015
  • Aug 29 - Sep 05, 2015
  • Sep 05 - 12, 2015
  • Sep 12 - 19, 2015

Trip Cost

2014

$4,795

2015

$4,995

Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $500 in 2014 and $600 in 2015. International airfare to/from Edinburgh is not included in the adventure cost.

GROUP SIZE: 8–16

See special terms and conditions for this adventure.

Activity Level

Easy to Moderate

We will be hiking 1 to 5 hours per day (2.5 to 7 miles) on moderate to steep grades at low elevations. During hikes, vehicle support is provided at various points while in the highlands, but will be limited while on the islands. Participants always have the option to rest a day and ride to the next hotel. We will stay in ideally located hotels that reflect the local character.

Click here for a description of all activity levels.

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